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This article is about the English horror writer; for the American music video director, see James Herbert .

James Herbert (born 8 April, 1943, Londonmarker) is a best-selling Englishmarker horror writer known for his simple yet compelling sensationalist novels, which are notable for their use of horrific set pieces. His heroes are usually young, rather cynical men, whose fight against the horror is abetted by the growth of a strong sexual relationship.

Born in Londonmarker, James Herbert has worked as a singer and the art director of an advertising agency. Today, he lives near Brightonmarker with his wife and daughters, and is a full-time writer. He also designs his own book covers and publicity.


His first two books, The Rats and The Fog, are gruesome disaster novels, influenced by the science fiction works of John Wyndham. The horror - man-eating Giant Black Rats in the first, an accidentally released chemical weapon in the second - is symbolic of flaws in society: urban poverty and neglect in The Rats, political and military incompetence in The Fog. The premise of The Fog bears considerable resemblance to that of George A. Romero's 1973 film The Crazies: as in Romero's film, the chemical weapon induces violent psychosis in those who are exposed to it. In both books, government authority is seen as callous, bungling, and - despite the presence of honourable individuals - inclined to cover up mistakes rather than look for solutions.

Herbert has written three sequels to The Rats; Lair deals with a second outbreak of the mutants, this time in the countryside around Epping Forestmarker rather than in the first book's Londonmarker slums; In Domain, one of Herbert's bleakest and most ironic books, a nuclear war means that the rats have become the dominant species in a devastated city. The third sequel, the graphic novel The City, is an adventure set in the post-nuclear future.

With his third novel, the ghost story The Survivor, Herbert used supernatural horror rather than the science fiction horror of his first two books. The Dark showed the novelist's moralistic stance in a powerful story of a supernatural darkness which aggravates people's character flaws into hideous evil. In Shrine he explored his Roman Catholic heritage with the story of an apparent miracle which turns out to be something much more sinister. He also showed that, despite his apparently Christian beliefs, he was not afraid to show the Church in an unflattering light.

Haunted, the story of a sceptical paranormal investigator taunted by malicious ghosts, began life as a screenplay for the BBC, though this was not the screenplay used in the eventual film version. The story is somewhat after the fashion of Nigel Kneale, whose Quatermass stories had influenced Herbert's first novels. Along with its sequel The Ghosts of Sleath and Herbert's earlier The Magic Cottage, Haunted showed the novelist essaying a greater subtlety of style and atmosphere.

Others of Herbert's books, such as Moon, Sepulchre and Portent, are structured as thriller, and include espionage and detective story elements along with the supernatural, after the fashion of John Blackburn. The Jonah is in large part the story of a police investigation, albeit by a policeman whose life is overshadowed by a supernatural presence. The Spear deals with a neo-Nazi cult in Britain and an international conspiracy which includes a right-wing US general and a sinister arms dealer. '48]]'' is set in an [[Parallel universe (fiction)|alternate world]] of 1948 in which the [[Second World War]] ended with the release of a devastating [[pandemic|plague]] by the defeated [[Adolf Hitler|Hitler]] and, like ''The Spear'', features British characters who sympathise with the [[Nazis]]. ''Others'' presents the story of a physically deformed [[private detective]] whose condition is explicitly presented as a payoff for the immorality of his previous existence. Herbert had previously tackled the theme of [[reincarnation]] in his fourth novel, ''Fluke'', which horrified his publishers because of its lack of gruesome violence or explicit sex. Instead, it was a tragicomic [[picaresque]] story of a dog who somehow remembers his previous life as a human being. [[Rumbo]], one of the characters from ''Fluke'' also turns up in ''The Magic Cottage'', which is also comparatively gentle by Herbert's standards. ''Once...'', an attempt at an "adult fairy tale", also includes various in-jokes referring to Herbert's previous works, including another reference to the character of Rumbo. ''Nobody True'' continues the theme of life after death, being narrated by a [[ghost]] whose investigation of his own death results in the destruction of his illusions about his life. Herbert has described ''[[Creed (novel)|Creed]]'' as his ''[[Abbott and Costello]] Meet [[Frankenstein]]''. The ironically named Joe Creed is a cynical, sleazy [[Paparazzi|paparazzo]] who is drawn into a [[black humour|blackly comic]] plot involving fed-up and underappreciated monsters. (The book's [[tagline]] was "Demons today are a shoddy lot...") No one believes in anything any more, least of all cynics like Creed, and the reader's own disbelief is actively solicited by a highly intrusive narrative voice which constantly reminds us (e.g. by referring to Creed as "our hero" or smugly informing the reader: "You've just suffered a dramatic pause") that the story is only a story. A new novel, ''The Secret of Crickley Hall'', originally scheduled for release in April 2006, was eventually released in October. A long novel about a haunted country house in England, it examined the relationship between religious zealotry and [[child abuse]] while revisiting several Herbert themes: the psychic phenomena of ''Haunted'' and ''The Ghosts of Sleath'', the British [[anti-semitism]] of ''The Spear'' and '''48'' and the nature of the afterlife as in ''Others'' and ''Nobody True''. One of the characters in this novel is named after a real person, who won the honour by having the winning bid in the 2004 [[BBC Radio 2]] [[Children in Need]] [[Auction]]. Various biographical and critical pieces by and about Herbert have been collected in ''James Herbert: By Horror Haunted'', edited by [[Stephen Jones (author)|Stephen Jones]], and also in ''James Herbert: Devil in the Dark'' by [[Craig Cabell]]. Herbert released a new novel every year between 1974 and 1988, wrote six novels during the 1990s and to date has released three new works in the 2000s. "I am very insecure about being a writer", he stated in the book [[Faces of Fear (interview book)|Faces of Fear]]. "I don't understand why I am so successful. And the longer I stay that way, the better it's going to be, because that's keeps me on the edge, striving if you like." ==Works== ===Novels=== *''[[The Rats (novel)|The Rats]]'' (1974), made into a film in 1982 under the title [[Deadly Eyes]]; adapted into a computer game for the [[Commodore 64]] and [[ZX Spectrum|Sinclair Spectrum]] in 1985 *''[[The Fog (1975 novel)|The Fog]]'' (1975) (not related to the [[John Carpenter]] film of the [[The Fog|same name]]) *''The Survivor'' (1976), made into a [[The Survivor (film)|film of the same name]] in 1981 *''Fluke'' (1977), made into a [[Fluke (film)|film]] in 1995 *''[[The Spear]]'' (1978) *''Lair'' (1979) *''The Dark'' (1980) (not related to the [[John "Bud" Cardos]] film of the [[The Dark|same name]]) *''The Jonah'' (1981) *''Shrine'' (1983) *''Domain'' (1984) *''Moon'' (1985) *''The Magic Cottage'' (1986) *''Sepulchre'' (1987) *''Haunted'' (1988), made into a [[Haunted (film)|film]] in 1995 *''Creed'' (1990) *''Portent'' (1992) *''The City'' (1993), *''James Herbert's Dark Places'' *''The Ghosts of Sleath'' (1994) *''[[48 (1996 Novel)|'48 (1996)
  • Others (1999)
  • Once (2001)
  • Nobody True (2003)
  • The Secret of Crickley Hall (2006)

Short stories

  • "Breakfast" (a chapter cut from some editions of Domain, about a woman who continues with her chores after the armageddon)
Available in Scare Care, ed. Graham Masterton, Tor 1989 and James Herbert: By Horror Haunted, NEL 1992.
  • "Maurice and Mog" (like "Breakfast" cut from some editions of Domain, about a man living in his nuclear shelter with a cat)
Available in Masques #2, ed. J. N. Williamson 1987; The Best of Masques, ed. J. N. Williamson, Berkley 1988; Dark Masques, ed. J. N. Williamson, Kensington/Pinnacle 2001, and James Herbert: By Horror Haunted, NEL 1992.
  • "Halloween's Child" (published in the Daily Mail)
Available in The Complete Masters of Darkness, ed. Dennis Etchison, Underwood-Miller 1990; Masters of Darkness III, ed. Dennis Etchison, Tor 1991, and James Herbert: By Horror Haunted, NEL 1992.
  • '"They Don't Like Us"
Available in A Feast of Stories by Britain’s Favourite Authors, ed. Clare Francis & Ondine Upton, Pan 1997 and James Herbert: By Horror Haunted, NEL 1992.
  • "Extinct"
Available in James Herbert: Devil in the Dark, Craig Cabell, Metro Publishing Ltd. 2003
  • "Cora's Needs" (a restoration of a chapter from Sepulchre that was cut down before publication)
Available in James Herbert: Devil in the Dark, Craig Cabell, Metro Publishing Ltd. 2003

See also

External links

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